INDIANAPOLIS – One reality of life in the National Football League is that the landscape can change quickly.
One such possible change occurred in Indianapolis on Wednesday when the team added veteran quarterback Kerry Collins.
Collins has completed 16 seasons in the NFL for five different teams. Coming out of Penn State as the fifth overall pick of the NFL Draft, Collins has played for Carolina (1995-98), New Orleans (1998), the New York Giants (1999-2003) Oakland (2004-05) and Tennessee (2006-10).
Many Colts veterans have competed on the same field as Collins. Many saw him in his last game, the 2010 regular-season finale at Indianapolis.
Very soon, they will see him in a Colts uniform. Additions such like this are a matter of business.
The club's starting quarterback, Peyton Manning, is on the physically unable to perform list following neck surgery in May. In his absence, the team went to training camp with four quarterbacks, Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, Nate Davis and Mike Hartline. Davis was released by Indianapolis recently and the number now is back up to four with Collins' arrival.
A situation many players over the years who have joined the Colts on the offensive side of the ball have found is that the offense is complex and is not slowed down for anyone. Most of the players who have made those observations about the offense are very new to the league or have a short period of time in it.
While Collins has been fluent and very successful in many offenses during his career, a couple of established veterans know this will be a learning process for him, too.
Offensive tackle Ryan Diem cited Collins' notable experience in the league, and he hopes for a smooth transition.
"The communication factor," said Diem when naming one factor Collins will have to navigate. "He's got plenty of experience. I'm sure he's well-versed in that area and as long as we can get on the same page, I'm sure we'll be alright."
Five-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday has 170 career starts with Manning during his career, the most ever by a center-quarterback tandem. That total was achieved since the start of the 2000 season, Saturday's second season in the NFL and Manning's third. Collins already was an established presence in the league by then, and he is a quarterback Saturday has seen often since through the years.
"I'm excited to get to know him," said Saturday. "I obviously got to see him play at Tennessee for quite a long time and the Giants before. He's been around forever. He's very calm in the pocket. You never see him rushed. He's been around the game for a long time, so hopefully he'll come in and give us an added dimension."
Saturday, like his teammates, have seen players added before. It is a part of the business and that business now means getting to know someone new.
"It's a part of our game. We do it throughout the year," said Saturday. "You always bring guys in if you think you might need them. If you're going to bring somebody in, now's the time so we can get at least a week or so working with each other and trying to figure out how all of this is going to play out and just begin to build a relationship."
Saturday, better than almost anyone, knows the challenges in learning the club's offense. He sees the experience Collins has being an asset, given the time proximity to the end of preseason and the start of league play on September 11.
"It's going to be hard," he said. "I think that's why you go back to a quarterback who's been around 18 years or as long as he has played. He's seen probably every offense that's out there. He's not going to be surprised by any looks or any defenses or coverages. He's going to know what the field is going to look like when he calls his first play. I think that lends itself to getting a veteran-type of QB in."
Saturday pointed out a bit of familiarity that Collins has while playing for Tennessee for the past five years. It is something that could benefit him in Indianapolis.
"He's played every team we've played a couple of times a year for the past however many years," said Saturday. "The guy knows who we're playing. Again, it goes back to why you bring a guy in who has this many years of experience in the same division. All those things lead to being a benefit if he does have to play, that's he's got some familiarity with what we're doing."